Robert Roché - Biographical Notes by Peyton
Boswell and G. Leonard Gold
Studio of Sebastian Cruset
The National Academy of Design
The Art Students'League
Apprenticed to Sebastian Cruset
Charles Louis Hinton, A.N.A., Sculptor
Sidney Dickinson, N. A.
George B. Bridgeman
William C. Palmer and Others
The Royal Society of Arts
American Watercolor Society
Roché is indeed unusual for an artist of the twentieth century and especially so in
America. From his early apprenticeship at the age of ten to the Spanish portrait painter,
Sebastian Cruset, up until the present time, he has been a singular figure of great depth,
painting his country and the things around him that he knows and believes in.
In an era when creative people are usually given one label or another, Mr. Roché
undoubtedly would be called a "realist". However, he does not fit into any set
category, being neither an academic nor modern painter. As he so aptly phrases it,
"the former is surface painting and the latter theoretical jargonizing, and I don't
do either one". The well-known critic Peyton Boswell stated years ago, "by the
mastery of his craft and his professional integrity, Roché reflects the quality of a
Renaissance artist, working and living in our country today".
In spirit and tradition - not style - he falls into the direct line of Thomas Eakins,
Winslow Homer and George Bellows.
A characteristic most noted about his work is the tremendous versatility, both technically
Technically, he can range from very detailed, minute work all the way to the freest,
broadest type with ease. He has a complete mastery of all painting media and is as well
known for his watercolors as his oils. His work in watercolor combines the freedom of this
medium with the depth and feeling of oil.
Visually, his scope is outstanding. He can range with equal facility and depth from the
most subtle flower painting to an earthy study of a sharecropper, formal portraits,
landscapes, animals, still life and sporting subjects, etc. Probably the outstanding
quality Mr. Roché possesses is that he can apply this technical and visual mastery with
sensitivity and without conscious effort on his part to the subject at hand.
A favorite subject is rural farm life. His warmth and feeling for country people are
probably best expressed in the paintings he did of the Amish and Mennonites in
Pennsylvania. His compassion and understanding as a human being as well as an artist
enabled him to be accepted and to live on their farms, and work amongst these people - a
privilege not accorded to many outsiders.
The painting of sports is another facet of this artist's work that links him strongly to
many American painters of the past. His knowledge and insight into sports have established
him as one of the major interpreters of this category of painting. Action and color have
been captured, all the way from boxing at ringside to scenes painted right at the race
He has executed thirty-one commissioned paintings for the New York Racing Association, the
most famous of these being his Saratoga and Belmont series, which were painted on
location, and a half-life-size action portrait of "Man 0' War". These paintings
hang at Aqueduct and Belmont racetracks.
No resume of Robert Roché's work would be complete without a partial listing of the more
prominent people who have sat for their portraits by him. The impressive list includes
President Harry S. Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bernard Baruch, James Farley, Dr. Ralph
Bunche, and such sporting figures as "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons and Eddie Arcaro,
etc. Even in his formal portraits, Mr. Roché insists on painting his sitters as they
"actually are", not in the usual slick society type of portrayal.
During Mr. Roché's career he has had numerous one-man shows throughout the United States.
His first two were at the Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery, New York City, which represented him
for several years.
Besides his stature as a creative artist, he is recognized as a leading authority on old
paintings and their restoration, and his firm, R.R.R. Associates, has acquired and
dispersed important works of Art for many years. He has lectured extensively throughout
the country and made many guest appearances on radio and television.
of Works Inquiry on Works